NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee wildlife officials are hoping the public can help keep a potentially deadly disease out of the state that could impact a multi-million dollar industry.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is not a new problem. In fact, this year marks 50 years since its discovery.
But it’s spreading closer to Tennessee on nearly all sides, and once here, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of.
The disease is caused by a deformed protein, which affects deer, elk, and moose in the US and Canada. To date, it’s spread to 24 states, including three that border Tennessee.
Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency test for the disease every year, checking the tissues of more than 1,500 last year.
Symptoms of CWD are hard to miss.
“[Animals] lose weight, they look really skinny, they have trouble eating and drinking,” said Chuch Yoest, TWRA Assistant Chief of Wildlife and Forestry Division. “It’s passed both through animals and through the environment to animals, so when you add all those things up, it’s nearly impossible to contain.”
There is no cure for CWD, which ultimately is fatal, but it is possible to prevent.
Deer, elk, or moose killed in a CWD positive state are prohibited from being brought across Tennessee state lines unless they meet strict guidelines.
“We have well over 300,000 deer hunters in our state, and that impacts their recreation, it impacts the economy of the state,” said Richard Kirk, Region II Wildlife Program manager. “So if you harvest a deer, and if you would, come by and let us sample your deer and include your deer in our surveillance effort.”
The TWRA will be posting on their Facebook throughout hunting season, where deer can be brought to be tested.
Though there’s no evidence of CWD affecting humans, officials urge hunters not to ingest meat of an infected animal.
For full details on CWD, click here.